Jul 01, 2011 • By

Can you package a spoonful?

General Mills’ Mechanical Division unveiled the newest member of its packaging machinery family at the “Engineering Exposition” in St. Paul, Minnesota in 1948 – the Uni-Pak Machine.

Tea bags and personal sized packs of sugar cubes were forerunners of the modern trend toward “spoonful” packaging, from devices made to put small quantities of material into individual packages.

However, the Uni-Pak used continuous rotary motion to seal small quantities of product into separate envelopes. Since it did not depend upon reciprocating parts, it had a long operating life, was economical, and capable of high production day after day.

The Uni-Pak was produced and marketed under an exclusive manufacturing and sales agreement with Chanwall Products, Inc., of Cleveland, Ohio. The Mechanical Division launched the Uni-Pak sales campaign with an exhibit at the American Packaging Exposition in Cleveland in April 1948.

Occupying only 2’ by 5’ of floor space, the Uni-Pak could turn out as many as 340 units per minute. The packs could hold candies, tablets and powdered, granular or semi-liquid products. Other uses included packing cosmetics and beauty preparations, photographic chemicals, sugar, malted milk, soluble coffee, as well as soup and cake mixes.

“The trend in modern packaging,” said Paul E. Fischer, chief engineer of the Industrial Sales and Manufacturing Department at the time, “is toward small, individual packages. Their advantages make possible more sanitary handling, prevents inter-mixing of flavors and keeps products fresher.” Manufacturers could turn out product literally “untouched by human hands”.

The General Mills packaging scientists and engineers always aimed at giving products better protection with greater speed at less cost.

Editor’s note: The photos are from “Progress thru Research,” Vol. 2, No. 4, Summer 1948.

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